18 November, 2016
Repetition is Not My Friend
Most of us know what it’s like to perform a task that is so repetitive and monotonous that your mind drifts off and you zone out while performing it but have you had a job that was so tedious that it caused you physical discomfort? Repetition is not my friend.
Immediately out of high school I took a factory job at a company called Kolpak in the tiny town of Parsons, Tennessee. I had been harboring show business aspirations and going to college wasn’t part of my plan. I intended to earn enough money to move to New York or California and chase my dream.
Kolpak makes stainless steel, walk-in coolers such as those you see in the back of restaurants and grocery stores. As I recall the job paid minimum wage and was an 8:00 am to 4:00 pm job with a one-hour lunch break.
My primary function was to fill the inside of the cooler walls with foam insulation that was shot out of a water hose-looking device. Afterward, I helped connect the walls together, forming the cooler itself. It was all fairly tedious work. The only excitement came from joking around with fellow coworkers or trying to beat our record for the number of coolers we could build in a day.
After a while I became friends with a coworker who had transferred to another area on the assembly line; his sole job was to slide thin metal sheets against a grinder to round off the edges. This part seemed to be far easier than what I had been doing. He encouraged me to ask my supervisor if I could switch over to his department. The next week I found myself alongside my buddy, grinding metal.
Although this new job was physically easier, it was far more repetitious and tedious than the other job had ever been. I quickly began to find myself physically and emotionally exhausted by the end of every day. By the time I clocked out and headed home my muscles and joints ached as if I’d been doing hard manual labor all day long. I couldn’t understand how a physically less demanding job could cause something like that to happen. It didn’t have any effect on my assembly-line buddy; he was just fine. I lasted an entire month before I went to my supervisor and begged to be transferred back to my old job. All total, I worked for Kolpak a year before signing up for college.
Repetition is Not My Friend
My experience at Kolpak taught me that repetition was not my friend. Even now, having been an entertainer for more than 20 years, I find myself having to alter my material frequently when it becomes monotonous. If I don’t change things up, I begin to lose my comedic “edge.” I recall reading that Jonathan Winters said, “I have to constantly change because I get bored before the audience does”.
Do you have a job that involves repetition? If so, what do you do to combat it?